Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a senior editor at National Review, and a leading conservative pundit. The views expressed here are his own.

July 26 (Bloomberg) — Conservatives on Capitol Hill think they have a chance to strike a mortal blow against President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul this fall. If their plan goes forward, however, it will backfire.

The plan is to oppose any bill to fund the government or increase the debt limit that also provides money for putting the health care law in place. Because Republicans control the House, Democrats can’t continue borrowing or paying for government operations without Republican support. So, conservatives say, Republicans should insist on defunding Obamacare as the price of that support.

The chance that Democrats would go along — would give up on their signature legislative initiative of the last decade soon after having won the presidential election and gained Senate and House seats — approaches zero percent. So if Republicans stay firm in this demand, the result will be either a government shutdown or a partial shutdown combined with a debt default.

Either would be highly unpopular, and each party would blame the other. The public, however, would almost certainly blame Republicans, for five reasons.

First, Republicans are less popular than the Democrats and thus all else equal will lose partisan finger-pointing contests. Second, the executive has natural advantages over a group of legislators in a crisis atmosphere. Third, people will be naturally inclined to assume that the more anti-government party must be responsible. Fourth, some Republicans will say that government shutdowns or defaults are just what the country needs, and those quotes will affect the image of all Republicans. And fifth, the news media will surely side with the Democrats.

This is true even though Obamacare is unpopular. Conservatives and moderate Democrats have grown more skeptical of it over time, and 22 House Democrats voted with the Republicans to delay its individual mandate. But none of those Democratic representatives would have a hard time standing against Republicans if they try this maneuver. They’ll just say they oppose a shutdown or a default. Democratic voters who harbor doubts about the health law will take the same view.

Bringing the federal government to a standstill would confirm the Democrats’ caricatures that conservatives are reflexively hostile to all government. And Republicans would be doing it without proposing a plausible replacement for Obamacare. So Democrats would be able to say that Republicans were crippling the government and credit markets in order to take health insurance away from 30 million people.

  • Share this on Google+0
  • Share this on Linkedin0
  • Share this on Reddit0
  • Print this page
  • 246

21 responses to “Republicans’ Disastrous Plan To Defund Obamacare”

  1. docb says:

    More underhanded ruin the USA at any cost from the Do Nothing Dead-Enders of the ignorant right…They are already hated by even people in their base,,
    Call them out locally..they are taking all of August for vacation!

  2. dtgraham says:

    Can we all say Single A credit rating? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but having an eventual credit rating a half step below Zimbabwe’s somehow doesn’t really seem like a good price to pay just for the sheer joy of bringing back pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, and denial of coverage—-as big a fan as the GOP is of those things. Call me crazy.

    The Republican Party: something for you 1930’s nostalgia buffs. It’s their world…we’re just living in it.

  3. Dominick Vila says:

    Not surprisingly, the latest Republican strategy to undermine or get rid of ACA, does not include a viable alternative to it. Saying I don’t like it is easy, what is not so easy is coming up with a program that would extend preventive medical care to ALL Americans, that would reduce healthcare costs, that would reduce the burden our corporations incur when they provide healthcare benefits to their employees, a program that eliminates the pre-existing condition clause that was in place before President Obama got rid of it as an early facet of Obamacare, an alternative to the draconian insurance caps that force tens of thousands of Americans to sell everything they have and often go bankrupt to get the medical care they need to survive, effective wellness programs for women, and other such benefits.

    • sigrid28 says:

      Everything you said, Dominick, plus–we recently read in these very “pages” news that the ratings agencies themselves (like S&P) have had to admit publicly (in court) to bias in evaluating countries and corporate entities by failing to disclose conflicts of interest. So their crumby ratings may not be worth anything anyway! I say, let these Republicans threaten to dismantle the economy unless they get to defund Obamacare. What worth are credit ratings if the world is now run almost exclusively on cronyism? Of course, the business elites that Republicans depend on for support may become very angry if the Tea Party rains on their parade of high stock prices and soaring incomes for CEOs by bringing the economy to a screeching halt because a few die-hards don’t like Obamacare.

      Meanwhile, the huge health care ocean liner that pulls so many dollars along with it, connected to big insurance and even bigger pharma, has just gotten itself turned around in the direction of Obamacare–and its captains say, “Full steam ahead.” If Republicans succeed in defunding Obamacare, the businesses that thrive on the health care system in the U.S. will all be mad as hops. Good luck turning that ocean liner around again!

      • Independent1 says:

        What’s confusing me is: Where is the insurance lobby in all this? I’m certain the insurance industry does not want ACA repealed – it’s salivating at the millions of potential customers who will be required to have coverage in 2014 and which will not materialize if the GOP repeals ACA. And if the GOP truly cares about corporations and their profits, why are they looking to repeal legislation that will be a boon to the insurance industry? Who’s really pushing the repeal effort? It makes no sense!! But then again, I guess that’s par for the course for the GOP – whatever they do – MAKES NO SENSE!

        • sigrid28 says:

          Independent, I am as sure as you are that the insurance lobby wants success for Obamacare in the long run. Remembering that the insurance business is the business of long memory and sound thinking about the future, perhaps insurers just ignore the bleating of this fringe element of the Republican party that wants to defund the ACA. They know it will be silenced eventually, and into the silence will step the insurers with policies ready for the many intended to finally qualify for health insurance. Insurers may be biding their time while taking the long view. I hope so.

    • Allan Richardson says:

      The reason they have not provided an alternative is that THEY DO NOT CARE about people who have no insurance (as long as they stay ambulatory long enough to vote Republican against their own interest). Remember the crowd CHEERING in last year’s Tea Party debates when a reporter asked what should happen to uninsured people? That tells you the level of “morality” that the GOP base voters have.

      • Dominick Vila says:

        Yes, Mitt Romney made it abundantly clear how he feels about 47% of our population…
        For people like him, we are just the waiters, nannies, the plumber that repairs his bathroom, and the groomers that make Rafalca look pretty. An expendable commodity to be used and disposed of as he pleases.

      • sigrid28 says:

        I heard an interesting discussion this AM on the Melissa Harris-Perry show, on the topic of the mission of Pope Francis in refocussing Catholics on the need to help the poor, to show mercy, and to abandon the empty values of the moneylenders. Evangelicals could join Catholics in this renewed dedication to one of the greatest missions of the Christian church worldwide. Addressing this irrefutable need may be one way to draw the young back into the fold, even secular progressives. Frankly, all religions endorse the value of helping those less fortunate, even command it. Venal, selfish Republicans who are insulated from poverty may come to represent a minority view as we raise young people among the 98% who yearn for values they can identify with, act on, and see positive outcomes. Selfishness is really such a self-destructive motivation that in the end it doesn’t make sense: remember Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” Acts of kindness and generosity rarely cause the donor to self-destruct and cause outcomes that are positive and easy to measure: Empty, Full. I’m hoping coalition building will overcome this fringe element of the Tea Party at the ballot box.

      • shaysite says:

        I think by alternative he means a fake alternative that’s good enough to fool low information voters into thinking it’s a real alternative, as Republicans used to offer before they went totally off the deep end.

  4. charleo1 says:

    No doubt the Conservative author of the Bloomberg editorial has the politics
    about right, of staging another economic hostage taking. Risking another credit
    downgrade, causing interest rates to rise on the National debt. However, he forgot
    to mention the reaction of their usual supporters. The big box merchandizers, and the Wall Street financiers. Who labor tirelessly each year, well their minimum wage employees do. To make the Christmas Dreams of millions of Americans come true,
    at 18% interest, compounded monthly. Subject to a rate of 24.99%, and $35,00 late charge, along with a $50.00 return check fee, phone fee, cash advance fee, over limit fee. Christmas. It’s big business! Are they really nuts? We’ll find out. Mucking with the poor, the kids, the unemployed, the vote, and women’s reproductive Rights, is one thing. Mucking with Santa Clause, as they will find out, if they try this debt ceiling crapola again. Like my Momma used to kid. At least I guess she was kidding.
    I brought you into this world, and I can take you out! Ditto that from Santa.

  5. AlfredSonny says:

    Democrats rely on intelligence while Republicans rely on ignorance

  6. latebloomingrandma says:

    It’s obvious the Republicans are terrified that Obamacare gets started and all their lies will be exposed about how awful it is. I suspect that as more and more people get enrolled and see the benefits, they will start liking it. Then this President will get the credit. Oh, the horror! He is, after all, just an empty suit and deserves no credit for anything!

    • Allan Richardson says:

      I wonder how many viewers who heard the President say “I could have been Trayvon Martin 35 years ago,” muttered something about being sorry he wasn’t?

  7. FT66 says:

    Republicans must understand that a country with all its people who are healthy , is the country which must be proud of itself as that what means by living. Feeding people and not keeping an eye on their healthy, doesn’t make any sense at all. Food, shelter and healthcare should never be separated. They are three major basic requirements to any human being.

  8. Stuart says:

    Time to break out the trillion dollar coin again.

  9. Pamby50 says:

    I read an article that says CVS/Caremark is pushing the implementation of Obamacare. It is explaining the benefits to people. That outraged Eric Erickson that he said he would go to Walgreens. Guess what? Walgreens is teaming up with Blue Cross to help with ACA. Where to go if you are a republican. This is there capitalistic free market plan and they don’t want it.

    • 4sanity4all says:

      I imagine that, as dispensers of prescription medicine, the drug stores see first hand how many people ask the price and then sadly walk away without getting their prescription filled. They are in a position to know how many people NEED the ACA.

  10. Lynda Groom says:

    It’s painfully obvious that the GOP’s big fear is the success of the ACA. After three years of obstruction, obfuscation and deceit many states are moving along just fine and publishing low rates. Fear of success does not seem to be a good reason for the continued attempts to repeal, and now defund the program. What do they have against millions of American’s who need help?

  11. 4sanity4all says:

    Republicans had their chance to craft a healthcare law. In fact, most of Obamacare came from an idea originally proposed by a Republican think tank. But since Obama was for it, Republicans, like petulant toddlers, were against it. The Republicans adamantly opposed giving Americans any kind of affordable healthcare plan, so now we have Obamacare. in law and in fact. And Republicans continue to act like petulant toddlers, and still want to de-fund or repeal it. They keep insisting that it is unpopular. Well, then, how did President Obama get reelected? People wanted the President’s health plan, they agreed with his financial vision, they reelected him! Republicans do not care how much pain they heap on the citizens of this country, they want their way! And they will obstruct and obstruct until they get it! Waaahhh! What a bunch of unreasonable, stubborn babies the Republicans are. They lost the White House, but they act like they should be running the country. I am glad that at least a couple of Republicans are beginning to stand up to these unreasonable bullies. Now the rest of the country needs to stand up to them and tell them to get on board, or get lost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.